Location: Delta, British Columbia
Certification level: Gold
Per cent of overall diversion achieved: 96 per cent
Certification date: April 2016
With an overall waste diversion rate of 96 per cent, the Que Pasa Foods manufacturing facility in Delta, B.C. obtained a TRUE Gold certification in April 2016, recognizing efforts in managing food waste and other garbage, working with suppliers and training its employees around zero waste strategies.
Adhering to the mantra, “Always leave the earth better than you found it,” tortilla chip manufacturer Que Pasa Foods and its parent organization Nature’s Path Foods (a B.C.-based company) constantly strive to reduce their environmental impact and make sustainability a priority. The achievement of Canada’s first TRUE Zero Waste certification underscores that corporate commitment and adds to several other accomplishments for Nature’s Path. The snack and breakfast foods maker was the first cereal company to obtain TRUE certification as well as the first cereal company to be Certified Organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
GBCI Canada spoke with Manuel Gorrin, Sustainability and Stewardship Manager at Nature’s Path Foods, about the certification, how it fits into the company’s sustainability strategy, and the unique solutions the Que Pasa facility had to come up with during the certification process.
In 2014, Nature’s Path identified being a zero waste company as one of its six sustainability goals, along with growing organic; becoming carbon neutral by 2020; preserving water; educating, inspiring and engaging; and giving back.
The B.C. facility’s certification in April 2016 along with another TRUE Gold achievement for its Blaine, Washington location were important milestone achievements in Nature’s Path’s zero waste journey. In April 2017, its final remaining production facility in Sussex, Wisconsin also became TRUE certified, marking the company’s successful attainment of its goal.
“The TRUE certification holds our facilities up to a high standard that helps us reduce our overall environmental impact, and we were thrilled when our facility in Delta, B.C. became the first certified facility in Canada,” says Gorrin.
Certification was a true team effort, he notes, with all 65 of the facility’s team members involved in the process under the direction of plant manager Hans Hoepfner.
Gorrin adds that TRUE provides accountability to ensure Nature’s Path is effectively managing its waste, and helps the company continue to improve its processes in order to maintain its high diversion rate. Each facility diverts more than 90 per cent of waste from landfill, amounting to a total of 2,875 short tons each year. These efforts have resulted in more than $344,000 in annual savings for Nature’s Path, meaning that this initiative makes sense for both the environment and for business.
Nature’s Path’s robust zero waste program isn’t just about making sure garbage isn’t sent to the landfill; rather, it represents a change in the way the company thinks about how it makes, uses and disposes of material in a responsible manner.
The company now strives to reduce waste and to turn what is left into green energy and compost. Among its initiatives at the Que Pasa facility is a recently implemented process that focuses on reducing the overfilling of its bags of corn tortilla chips, and consequently the amount of waste generated when removing and disposing of overfilled bags.
Figuring out the best way to dispose of the corn waste that comes from the production process proved a bit more challenging for the team, but they were able to devise a creative solution to ensure the food waste could be diverted successfully. During the certification process, they realized that the high moisture content of the corn material meant they were unable to divert it to animal feed. Fortunately, they were able to partner with waste management firm Revolution Resource Recovery to arrange a custom-built container to hold this waste and to have it picked up for organics composting. As well, after a slight adjustment to the process line, the facility was eventually able to send some of its organic waste stream to animal feed and the rest for composting.
Other waste reduction strategies at the Que Pasa facility include buying corn in bulk, ensuring that suppliers use recyclable materials, training all team members in its zero waste program, and using colour-coded bins to ensure that all waste streams are being diverted appropriately.
These efforts have resulted in significant benefits for Nature’s Path, says Gorrin. “Our zero waste program allows us to see waste generation from a different angle,” he explains. “We can make changes that aid us to reduce inefficiencies, save costs, and reduce our environmental impact.”
Nature’s Path continues to work on maintaining its status as a zero waste company. The company completes waste stream audits biennially at all three of its locations, which is one of the key actions that helped it reach its zero waste milestone. Following the audits, location-specific key performance indicators are set, as well as action plans around target waste streams identified in the audits.
The company also encourages its consumers to participate in waste diversion, and in 2017 it joined How2Recycle, a standardized labelling system that helps the consumer to properly recycle their cereal boxes and granola pouches. Company-wide waste diversion for that year continued to be strong at 92 per cent, with all the waste diverted from landfill into organic and recycling streams amounting to a total of 4,587 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, or the equivalent of reducing carbon pollution for one year from 982 passenger vehicles.
“We want to continue reducing the company’s environmental impact, right through to the final use of our products,” says Gorrin.
Learn more about the TRUE Zero Waste Program and find out how you can certify your project at gbcicanada.ca/true.shtml
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